After figuring out where you want to go for your vacation, the next step will be deciding how to get there. If the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica is what you have in mind for a getaway, there are three international airports you can consider for your arrival and departure: Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (MBJ), Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel (OCJ), and the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston (KIN).
Of the three international airports in Jamaica, Sangster is the most popular (and tends to be the busiest), Ian Fleming is the island’s newest airport, and Norman Manley is convenient for travelers headed to the southeastern coast of Jamaica.
Now that you know all the possibilities, we'll get into discussing how to decide which airport will be best for your travels to Jamaica and nearby activities you can enjoy within Jamaica once you arrive!
If you’ll be vacationing in Jamaica, chances are you’ll arrive via the Sangster International Airport. Sangster International Airport is in Montego Bay, St. James Parish. This is the main airport in Montego Bay and is a convenient gateway to get to various parts of Jamaica via ground transport or by way of domestic air travel.
Sangster is one of the busiest airports in Jamaica, and on some days, can be quite hectic. This is because it’s a popular option for people headed to destinations on the north coast of Jamaica, as well as those who wish to travel domestically throughout the island. Fly into Sangster International Airport if you’re staying in the following towns. You can also make note of the associated transfer times for each location:
● Montego Bay - 15 mins
● Negril - 1 hr 45 mins to 2 hrs
● Falmouth - 30 mins
● Runaway Bay - 1 hour
● Hopewell - 40 mins
● Lucea - 1 hour
● White House - 1.5 hours
● Treasure Beach - 2.5 hours
● Billy Bay - 2.5 hours
● Ocho Rios (when Ian Fleming is not an option) - 1.5 hours
Expert tip: If you want a seamless experience at Sangster International Airport in Jamaica, you might want to consider Club Mobay with arrival and departure services, as well as a VIP Lounge.
The Norman Manley International Airport is another well-known airport in Jamaica. This airport was named after Jamaican Statesman Norman Manley who served as the first and only Premier of the island. This airport is located in Kingston, Jamaica (the capital). It is near the Blue Mountains, which makes travel time between Kingston and towns in the northeast of Jamaica like Port Antonia a bit longer. If you’re headed to the southern coast, however, it can be ideal to arrive at the Norman Manley International Airport.
Norman Manley is mainly used by Jamaican residents, but depending on your end destination, landing here could be ideal. If you’ll be visiting the towns listed below while in Jamaica, you may want to consider arriving via the Norman Manley International Airport. You can also consider the transfer times to each city:
● Kingston - 35 mins
● Port Royal - 15 mins
● Mandeville - 2 hrs
The Ian Fleming International Airport isn’t the most highly trafficked airport in Jamaica, but it is a great option if you’ll be heading to certain areas, including Ocho Rios. This airport is named after British author Ian Fleming who most famously wrote the James Bond novels. Ian Fleming is quite the household name in the Caribbean as many of the Bond movies were filmed in this region.
The Ian Fleming International Airport is the newest international airport in Jamaica most recently renovated in 2011 in order to welcome international arrivals. This airport is located around 9 miles from Ocho Rios, in Boscobel. It takes just 20 minutes to drive from the Ian Fleming International Airport to Ocho Rios. If you’ll be traveling to the Jamaican cities listed below, then arriving via the Ian Fleming International Airport can be ideal. This is, of course, if you can find a suitable flight that will be landing there as there aren’t many. You’ll certainly appreciate the shorter transfer times to some cities from this airport:
● Ocho Rios - 30 mins
● Runaway Bay - 1 hour
● Oracabessa - 10 mins
● Port Antonio - 1 hr 45 mins
Expert tip: Ocho Rios is well known for its natural beauty! Be sure to visit Dunn’s River Falls and the ‘Cool’ Blue Hole while you’re in the area (more on this below).
There are both international and domestic airports in Jamaica. While you’re likely to arrive at an international airport, there are some cases where you may need to arrange a domestic connecting flight to get to other parts of Jamaica. Domestic airports are useful if you’re looking to avoid a long drive to your end destination and save time overall. There are three domestic airports in Jamaica, all listed below:
● Tinson Pen Aerodrome (Kingston)
● Negril Aerodrome
● Ken Jones Aerodrome (Port Antonio)
It is totally possible to find a direct flight to Jamaica from the United States. Direct flights leave regularly from cities in the U.S. including NYC, Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, and Houston. Flying out from large international airports can sometimes cost less when compared to smaller airports. If possible, try driving to the nearest international airport to cut down on travel costs.
If you’re traveling from the west coast, from Los Angeles or Seattle for example, you’re likely to require a connecting flight. No worries though, you’ll be in Jamaica with the swaying palm trees soon enough!
It is worth spending a little more time flight shopping ahead of a Jamaica vacation. There are quite a few airlines that operate direct flights to this island including American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Southwest, and JetBlue. As such, it is sometimes possible to get really impressive deals. Prices vary depending on the airline and how far ahead you book your flight, but you might find surprising deals even in the weeks leading up to your departure date.
Flights to Jamaica are available throughout the day. You can look for flights that leave early in the morning or afternoon, or even in the evening if that's more convenient. The last thing you’ll want to be doing first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening is figuring out how you will get to your resort. Decide beforehand what mode of transportation you’ll be taking.
If you’re also traveling within Jamaica, you can find domestic flight options at local airports to get to various parts of the island. Organizing ground transport is fairly easy as well and can be made even smoother by staying with Sandals' all-inclusive resorts because roundtrip airport transfers are included for their guests. Overall, it is not difficult to get around Jamaica via public or private buses, taxis, or a car rental.
Yes, Jamaica is open to international flights. Check here for more information on Jamaica’s entry requirements.
If you’re staying in Negril, your best option is to land at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (MBJ). Once you arrive at the Montego Bay Airport, you’ll then be able to travel to Negril via ground transportation. If you want to get to Negril a bit faster, you can also take a domestic flight from Sangster to the Negril Aerodrome.
If you’re headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica, you should fly into the Sangster International Airport. This airport is about 3 miles from Montego Bay and it’ll take less than 15 minutes to get there by car. There are a number of airlines that fly into the Sangster International Airport including JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta.
Expert tip: If you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, you’ll be able to experience many of the amazing things to do in and near Montego Bay, such as visiting Tropical Bliss Beach, exploring plantations, and going on river tubing adventures!
Ras Natango Gallery & Gardens lives up to the raving reviews you’ll find if you search this spot up before booking a tour. This outdoor gallery and garden combo is high up in the mountains, so you’ll be able to find all sorts of plants, birds, and art. You might see hummingbirds swirling around overhead and other captivating scenes as you explore the vibrant botanical gardens. When it's time for your art class (yes, these are also available!), you can try to recreate some of the amazing things you’ve seen before settling in for a delicious Jamaican lunch. The Ras Natango Gallery & Garden is a 25-minute drive from Sangster.
The Rose Hall Great House is set on a 4,000-acre estate that also boasts an 18-hole championship golf course. There are many reasons to visit this 18th-century property (that may or may not be haunted), and a tour can be one of them. You’ll really enjoy roaming the Jamaican Georgian Plantation House and learning about its history. The Great House serves as a house museum and offers day and night tours (if you dare!). Rose Hall Great House is about a 15-minute drive from Sangster.
Expert tip: If golfing on vacation sounds appealing, there are lots of other golf courses in Jamaica you can check out once you’ve seen the one at Rose Hall. Guests at Sandals Ochi get free access to one of the best golf courses in Jamaica!
Islands that offer experiences like river rafting really set themselves apart from the pack. This is an activity that can provide both fun and relaxation. If what you're looking for is a calm and peaceful excursion that'll give you plenty of time to take in the stunning Jamaican scenery, then river rafting, or tubing is definitely it!
A river rafting experience down the Martha Brae river includes getting on bamboo rafts and floating along the river’s course. This experience is offered as a guided tour. The area surrounding the river is quite lush and green, so you'll really feel as though you’ve discovered paradise. Before or after setting off on your raft, you go for a swim, indulge in a picnic, or explore the Martha Brae Rafting Village. This tour stop is about 30 minutes from Sangster.
Expert tip: There are many reasons to visit Negril, Jamaica, such as the beautiful beaches like Seven Mile Beach and Bloody Bay. Plus, there’s the allure of the all-inclusive resorts in Negril that are perfect for a romantic couples' vacation!
If you’re looking for a whimsical experience that involves animals and the most beautiful gardens, then a visit to the Hope Botanical Gardens & Zoo deserves a place on your vacation agenda. This is one of the most well-known botanical gardens in Jamaica and it is quite extensive. At this location, you can stroll around, take amazing photos, and peep in on the animals in the zoo. There’s also a museum and an orchid house here — both are worth exploring. Hope Botanical Garden & Zoo is about a 30-minute drive from the Norman Manley Airport.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is the place to go if you want a closer look at the Jamaican art scene. This is the oldest and largest gallery in Jamaica, and it is free to access. In this public gallery, there are both temporary and permanent exhibitions. Some of the permanent exhibitions include the Edna Manley Gallery, Kapo Gallery, and the Historic Gallery. If you plan on visiting this gallery while in Jamaica, call ahead for opening days and times. The National Gallery of Jamaica is about a 40-minute drive from Norman Manley.
Devon House was built in 1881 and it is said to have once housed Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. Today, this mansion is open to guests who want to take a tour. While at Devon House, not only will you get a flashback in time as you explore, but you'll also be able to shop, dine, relax and even grab some ice cream on your way out. Devon House is about a 30-minute drive from the Norman Manley Airport.
The Cool Blue Hole, also known as the Ocho Rios Blue Hole, is one of those attractions that doesn’t leave much to be desired. If you’re looking for a bit of fun and relaxation, you’ll find just that at the blue hole, along with the opportunity to cliff jump into waters of the brightest blue. The Cool Blue Hole is known for the series of natural limestone sinkholes that can be found in the area, including the main 20ft deep blue hole that you dip into during this experience.
If you choose to visit the Blue Hole while in Jamaica, you’ll have the option of getting into the mineral-rich waters in a number of ways, including by swinging in on a rope! There’s a waterfall nearby that you can hike to as well — Secret Falls. It takes around 10 minutes to get to Secret Falls from the Cool Blue Hole, and there you’ll find even more natural pools and room to explore.
The Cool Blue Hole is about a 20-minute drive from Ian Fleming.
Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica has a lot to offer, so it is quite a popular attraction. This is one of the largest waterfalls in the Caribbean, towering 180ft and stretching 600ft. Aside from the spectacular, multi-stream waterfall at this location, there are many different natural pools you'll be able to try, including the largest one known as ‘The Washing Machine’. The water in these natural pools is crystal clear and refreshing, so it’ll be hard to resist getting in and soaking in the beauty of this natural gem.
Dunn’s River Falls is about a 25-minute drive from the Ian Fleming Airport. There's also a beach in the Dunn’s River Falls area that you’ll be able to relax on while there.
Want to swim with dolphins? Dolphin Cove is the perfect place for this activity while in Jamaica. There are at least three different Dolphin Cove locations in Jamaica with the closest one to Ian Fleming Airport being a 25-minute drive away. At Dolphin Cove, you can choose from an assortment of dolphin swim adventures with some being more interactive and involved than others. You’ll also be able to see sharks, stingrays, and view some species of tropical birds up close. You can also try the Dolphin Encounter in Lucea if you are eager to swim with dolphins while in Jamaica. This Island Routes excursion also includes a buffet lunch.
Expert tip: There are lots of other interesting things to do in Jamaica such as seeing the beautiful Blue Mountains. Blue Mountain tours can be easily organized through your resort if you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios.
Picture: Sandals Royal Caribbean gives you a quick start to your fabulous vacation in Jamaica. Just 15 minutes from Sangster International Airport, this resort provides all guests with complimentary airport transfers, but some room categories include private transfers in a chauffeur-driven BMW!
Booking your Jamaica vacation is sure to be a lot simpler now that you know which airport to book your flights into. The next step in the process will be choosing the perfect accommodation. To keep things relaxed and effortless, all-inclusive resorts are a great option for a number of reasons. For starters, you won’t have to think about things like food, drinks, or even tips and gratuities at some all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica.
The benefits are endless in the all-inclusive realm and at Sandals Resorts in Jamaica guests have access to up to 21 gourmet restaurants (including Stay at 1, Play at 2 options at neighboring Sandals resorts), multiple bars including swim-up bars, luxury accommodations, and lots of space for couples to cozy up. There’s also land and water sports, day and night entertainment, and everything necessary for a truly romantic and fun island getaway!